"I am sad to do this, but at this point we have no other options," said George Carr, co-chairperson of the Citizens for Better City Government.
The City Council was expected to officially respond to a Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury report that found councilmembers Ben Manley, Thom Crowder and Doug Humphreys were in violation of the Brown Act, Hughson Municipal Code and the Fair Political Practices and Regulations. The response drafted by Mayor Ramon Bawanan was left unapproved after a 2-2 vote, with Crowder and Manley in opposition. Humphreys was not in attendance Monday night. The draft response will be brought back at the next council meeting with a full council.
In the meantime, the Citizens for Better City Government is hoping to have made some progress in their recall campaign.
To start off the recall election process, residents must gather at least 753 certified signatures from registered voters of Hughson, said Candice Steelman, member of the Citizens for Better City Government. There must also be at least three candidates that would be willing to replace Crowder, Humphreys and Manley on the Council, Steelman said. Currently, there are four people who have expressed an interest in running for the three seats.
"Having a recall election is a big time commitment, expensive and an emotional commitment," Steelman said.
Josh Whitfield, a political consultant working with the Citizens for Better City Government, advised Hughson residents get "thick-skinned," because from his experience, he has seen the opposition get pretty nasty.
Manley and Crowder, who have both refused to step down from their seats, took some heat from a hand full of residents and Bawanan during Monday night's meeting.
"You work for the people of Hughson not vice versa," said Diane David, member of the Citizens for Better City Government. "Hughson will go on to better things and hopefully after the recall election, it will be without you Crowder."
Some of the night's more impassioned comments were made about Crowder's alleged lack of ethics training. Every two years, an elected official is required to take a two-hour training course in ethics. Crowder took his training in 20 minutes, which has stirred up some controversy among the residents.
"Ethics is doing what is right 100 percent of the time," said Pete Glen, Hughson resident.
"Ethics training is a waste of time," Crowder responded.
Those interested in joining the fight for or against the recall election can contact the Citizens for Better City Government at ResignHughson3@yahoo.com.
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.